One of the themes at the movies asks if there is more to this life. It is there in horrors — something other worldly and usually rotten invades the real world — it is there in drama — as in At Eternity’s Gate (2018) where Van Gogh needs something more to paint on his canvas, perhaps a glimpse of the after world in its goodness is seen in nature. Is it there in spiritual fantasy — Field of Dreams (1989) where a voice guides a farmer to build baseball stadium, and in biblical epics — King of Kings (1961) where the Son of God ‘arrives’ on earth as a man. In my experience, there is more to this life, and in the experience of others. From a Christian perspective, the language of the Christian’s book, the Bible, is spiritual and informs us of a God beyond this world and involved with this world and in Jesus Christ who can give spiritual life to spiritually dead people. Yes, there is more to this life.
I see the rugged hill
Where my saviour was
Blessed are the poor in spirit, Jesus said
On the Mount of Olives.
Now we live in poverty.
And now we are spiritually poor.
Our redeemer, rescuer has gone,
And he would be Messiah.
We are now poor
For Jesus has gone.
But we are rich
Yes we are rich
For having walked with him and talked
Yes we are rich.
And although I do not understand this crucifixion
Of an innocent man, I will understand this crucifixion.
And I saw the man next to Jesus at the Skull call
Jesus, asking forgiveness. Today you will be with me in
Paradise, Jesus replied. The other man insulted him.
And yes, a rich young man amidst the riches…
Of a slum? Amidst the riches of disease? Amidst the
Riches of not knowing God?
He rose again on the third day! Yes
And is coming back to take me to Paradise.
Jesus’ agony. Am I poor, am I rich? Do I know this God?
Do I know that he cares for me?
–Written in 1992
Salvation is one of the perennial themes of my life especially ripe so many years ago when I should have read David Pawson’s Once Saved, Always Saved? (note the question mark) but it had not been written yet. Such a dread and fear of hell led to me to find out if I was indeed saved from hell when I die so a book directing my thoughts towards the subject in a productive way were welcome.
Anyhow, the theme of being saved or salvation has stayed with me that recently my reading has encompassed books with titles The Road to Hell and Once Saved Always Saved? both by David Pawson, who was a Bible teacher. I absorbed much of these books that I barely could fault them. Pawson, in Once Saved Always Saved? clarified much of my thinking, which had been lying dormant there, but that Pawson brought out in his gentle wordsmithing as I read and kept on saying, yeah, I agree! Not that those earlier issues I had over being saved from hell were not dealt to, or else I would have been a cot-case for a good on twenty years. As I am doing Pawson’s short Bible reflections in The Road to Hell, I find I am recapturing much of what I originally believed about some Bible verses and dare I say am wondering why Pawson did not see it the way I did, but on a technicality though.
I think faith is a choice to believe in the God who was taught to me. But faith is more than that. When we have faith we receive God not by human invention but through the Spirit of God.
A question this gets put forth is why didn’t Jesus show how much he loved people by enduring in this world longer? Didn’t he just pack up his bags and go? He showed his love for a few years and then left? Is this a God of love? I thought about this for a moment and I understood the concern. We show love by how much we hang around. Love spells time, as they say. But, didn’t Jesus die, then? And that was that? But, then, I realized, that Jesus was human. I think he would not have died if he wasn’t punished. He was unable to die naturally. So, to answer the original question, Jesus could have hung around as it was. He could have stayed, I think. But Jesus had another destiny, to be human, to die in a human grave, and to be seen risen from the dead until he went back to heaven from where he came. I guess Jesus could have stayed longer here, but he was leaving the rest of his work to his disciples and he did not leave them. As, effectively what Jesus done when he died and rose from the dead (theologically speaking which I cannot explain here) is to give to his disciples and followers his presence and a promise that Jesus would be with them forever, if not physically on earth, but spiritually. Jesus was then with them through his Spirit–the Spirit which acknowledged that Jesus came in a body. They even felt Jesus with them when they went about spreading the Christian message, a task which Jesus gave them to do. So, after all this time, the true Christian message still goes out–and Jesus is with those who spread it–and this message can come with the presence of Jesus, to comfort, to help, and to heal. Christ did say there would be people pretending to be him, and that there would be false preachers and brothers, but there is only one true Christ, who did not leave his followers.